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WAR DIVIDES, MUSIC CONNECTS
Using music to bridge divides, connect communities,
and heal the wounds of war and conflict.
February 16, 2011 •• Palestine Community Music
Music for Blind Children

On Sunday the 6th of February, we were invited to visit a new music project in the Yamaha Music School in Ramallah.
Together with MwB trainees Amira and Seereen, we took the long winding road from Bethlehem to Ramallah. Because Amira and Seereen are from al-Azzeh and Dheisheh refugee camps, they are not allowed to pass through Jerusalem, where the road is much faster and safer.
But taking the long road through Wadi Nar (Valley of Fire) has also positive sides. We had all the time to talk, enjoy the beautiful view of the desert and listen to music on the radio.

When we arrived in the Yamaha Music School, we felt immediately welcomed. The warm colors and soft carpet made us forget the cold weather outside. The director, Mirna Malouf, a woman with unending energy, hosted us for more than two hours. She is the brain and the motor behind this wonderful project.

Since October last year, 30 visually impaired and blind children from all over Palestine receive music education twice a week. Buses bring them from their homes to the music school where they learn to play the oud, percussion, accordion, (electrical) piano, or violin and sing in a choir. Two of the music teachers are blind themselves. The children receive the lessons in groups, which gives them support and improves their social skills.

But it doesn’t end here….the children also receive lessons in solfege: reading and singing music notes.
They learn how to read and write the music notes in braille. Mirna showed us a braille music book and while I let my fingers go over the pages, I felt very small. How could one ever understand these dots? Some of my music students are having problems reading music, how can these blind children read music in braille?
The Yamaha Music School also offers music lessons for children that have normal vision. This makes the project even more beautiful, because the children learn to respect and support each other.

We were all very impressed and happy that such an important project exist. All the respect for Mirna and the music teachers!
The coming months, we will go back once a month to give music workshops for both the blind children and the children with normal vision. The challenge will be to find activities that will be fitting for all children, in which they can cooperate, be creative and use their many talents.

If you want to have more information about this wonderful project, please contact Mirna Malouf directly: mirnanagham@yahoo.com